Dan Lepard’s Orange Cassata Cake

4 Star, Cake, Layer cakes | 3rd November 2011 | By

Having missed trying a piece of the Orange and Earl Grey Cake, I was keen to make another one as soon as possible. I could have made the exact same one and one day I will, but having spotted a recipe for orange cassata cake in Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet, I thought I’d try that one instead – it did contain chocolate after all!

This is how I did it:

  • Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Grated in the zest of 1.5 oranges and creamed a bit more.
  • Beat in 3 medium eggs (sadly duck eggs are no longer in season), alternating each one with a spoonful of the flour mixture.
  • Sifted 200g sifted flour (half spelt and half white), 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, 25g custard powder (substituted for the cornflour which I didn’t have) and 75g icing sugar.
  • Stirred this in to the egg mixture alternately with 75g milk.
  • Divided the mixture between two 22 cm round cake moulds and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Beat 250g curd cheese (I used quark). The recipe asked for ricotta which I’d wanted to use, but couldn’t get hold of any.
  • Grated in the zest from the remaining half orange, reserving a few strands for decoration.
  • Stirred in 40g chopped dark orange chocolate (I used Lindt Orange Intense which also contains pieces of orange and almonds), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 15g very finely chopped mixed peel. CT is not a fan of mixed peel so I didn’t use as much as the recipe stated.
  • Beat 100g icing sugar with 3 tbsp of orange juice until it was soft enough to spread but not so runny it would slide off the cake as the Earl Grey icing had previously done.
  • Sandwiched the two cakes together with the cheese mixture.
  • Topped with the icing and scattered the reserved strands of orange zest over the top.

This was a deliciously citrussy cake, but it tasted of real orange, rather than that horrible synthetic taste you so often get with some commercial offerings, which neither CT nor I can abide. It had a good firm, but moist texture and was well risen. With the chocolate in the filling only and all layers containing orange, the orange was allowed to be the star of the show. It’s an orange cake with chocolate not a chocolate cake with orange. The icing was just the right amount to give a welcome addition of sweetness, but not so much as to be cloying. The chocolate in the filling provided a nice contrasting crunch to the sponginess of the cake and the cheese was pleasantly tart and creamy. CT, who is not a lover of peel, remained mercifully silent on the subject of its presence – result!

Choccy Munchy Seeds – A Review

Chocolate Reviews | 2nd November 2011 | By

Now here is an intriguing idea – chocolate covered seeds. If you need an excuse to eat chocolate, this might just be it. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds all enrobed with our favourite ingredient. I was sent the new chilli and ginger Munchy Seeds to try as well as a packet of an apricot mix. Well, chilli and ginger combined with chocolate was not something I was going to say no to.

Belgian Dark Chocolate with Chilli &  Ginger – unlike my chocotos, these are not going to cause a major melt down in your mouth, but they do leave a pleasant, if subtle warmth behind. Covered in Belgian Plain Chocolate (65%), the seeds were more palatable than they might otherwise have been. Although I enjoy raw pumpkin seeds, I’m not so keen on sunflowers in their raw state. The best bits were the ginger chunks, the chilli contributing to their overall heat and deliciousness – shame there were so few of them.

Belgian Chocolate Mix with Apricots – the pumpkin seeds and apricot pieces were covered in the same 65% dark chocolate whereas the sunflower seeds were covered in 30% milk. This made for an interesting combination. Again the sunflowers benefited from their chocolate covering and the dark chocolate offset the sweetness of the apricots.

These Choccy Munchy Seeds come in packets of 50g so are just about right for a moorland walk. They cost between £1.50 and £2.00 and are available at Harvey Nichols or directly from Munchy Seeds online. The seeds have a decent amount of chew to them and this slows down consumption and increases the enjoyment.

Tasty treats these are indeed, but I’m not sure they are quite as healthy for you as the manufacturer would have you believe – sugar is, after all, quite high up in the list of ingredients and these did taste rather sweet. That said, if you’re looking for a chocolate snack, these are likely to be better for you than a standard confectionary bar.

All in all, these were a fun and interesting way to increase our intake of some useful vitamins and minerals. They were, actually, good enough to inspire me to have a go at making my own. I’ll let you know how I get on.